If I ever visit Key West, I’ll smuggle aboard enough food rations to last me twice as long as my planned stay, refrain from eating at any restaurant within a sixty-mile radius, catch my own fish from my hotel balcony, and cook them from my own grill on said balcony, setting off all smoke detectors in a three-room radius. To that end, I’ll probably increase my life expectancy by six years, and I won’t go to sleep with cockroach-filled nightmares.
If writing zany characters were an occupation unto itself, Carl Hiaasen would have fit the requirements long ago and placed himself firmly within its trenches. This go round we are treated to a hairless capuchin monkey that was fired from Pirates Of The Caribbean and who developed an unhealthy attachment to Johnny Depp, hurls his own feces, and is addicted to Dunhill tobacco. He also subsists on conch fritters and other fried foods, most of which have his cholesterol levels shooting through the roof and have aided in his current hairless ailment; a daughter who sees dollar signs and would sell her soul to the devil himself for a million dollars instead of grieving over her deceased pa; a child sex offender named Plover Chase who exchanged grades in AP English for bedroom antics of a more than questionable nature; a Dragon Queen who likes to fornicate on a Rollie scooter; an assistant medical examiner who likes to have sex on her operating table amid sixty or so stiffs and in the middle of a hurricane; one sodomized surgeon; and a restaurant inspector who counts cockroaches with a homemade roach-vacuuming concoction.
There’s enough satire and madness and mayhem to satisfy the attention span of a gnat with a Medicare scam large enough to interest the FBI, one spec house up in flames faster than a blowtorch applied to rice paper, questionable corpses, scorned ex-lovers, dubious alliances, and the ever lingering environmental issues found in many of his tales…You know, your typical Carl Hiaasen novel.
While I can only speculate on his writing methods, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn he sits at his desk chair in a straitjacket pecking at his keyboard with the tip of his nose or dictating his stories into a voice recorder to be later typed by his secretary. And he does it all with a large grin and swag smile, inching up the chaos with each turn of the page. Because that’s exactly what happens here.
While BAD MONKEY certainly held my attention and had more than its share of laugh out loud moments, I couldn’t help but compare this novel to his earlier work, and I felt like he came up a little short. But on the bright side, there’s more than enough fuckwads and shitweasels to occupy an entire wing at an insane asylum. And in the end, that was enough for me to like this tale.